WATCH: Face masks not compulsory in Premier League restart
LONDON - The Premier League has ensured through rigorous testing that it is ready to return on June 17 after a 100-day hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All players and club staff have been tested for Covid-19 twice weekly since a return to training on May 19.
After over 7,000 tests, only 14 positive results have been found and now all Premier League clubs have decided on the rules for the "new normal" of English football.
Here is how each of the 92 remaining fixtures will work:
FORMALITIES: On match day, each player and staff member of the club will fill out a screening questionnaire and have their temperature checked before entering the stadium. They will record these results in a "clinical passport" that will be used as an app on their phone or a piece of paper to confirm their Covid-19 status. If they have tested negative in the last five days, they will be allowed to enter. If there is a suspect case of Covid-19, confirmed by a registered officer, the person will be turned away and told to self-isolate. If it is a person involved in the match itself, the game could be called off but that is judged on circumstance.
TEAM TRAVEL: The Premier League encourages air travel for teams on long-haul trips, for example, Southampton to Newcastle United. For shorter journeys, up to three coaches may be used to socially-distance players and other staff must travel individually in their own vehicles. Overnight stays in hotels is permitted but the league says to avoid this option if possible.
PERSONS IN STADIUMS: Stadiums are divided into three zones and the total capacity must not exceed more than 300 people. These consist of players, staff, scouts, media and doping control officers. The zones are labelled red, amber and green. The red zone is the playing area where there should be no more than 110 people at any time with 37 red zone pass holders per team. In terms of media, there will be one match commentator for the broadcast rights holders of BBC Radio 5 Live and Talksport. Summarizers will be asked to provide their comments live from their homes. There will be a maximum of 25 written media along with club performance analysts in the amber zone tribune. The green zone is stadium exterior for persons involved with security.
DRESSING ROOM: If a club has a small changing room that is impossible to guarantee social distancing, clubs may turn hospitality boxes into extra changing room space. Post-match showers are allowed and distance must be observed. Medical staff must wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) face masks when treating injured players.
TEAMS ON PITCH: The teams enter the pitch separately and also separately from the match officials. They are not allowed to enter side-by-side. There will be no ball children or mascots and handshakes between players and captains are suspended. There will be a one-minute drinks break per half to ease fatigue in high temperature weather and players must use hand sanitizer or gel each time they enter or leave the pitch.
ON THE SUBS' BENCH: Players will be required to sit two seats apart while face masks are optional instead of compulsory. The league has increased the number of substitutes from seven to nine in light of the rule change that the number of substitutes allowed to be used has increased from three to five. The technical areas will increase in size accordingly. Balls, corner flags, goalposts and substitute boards are to be regularly disinfected at appropriate intervals.
BEHAVIOUR DURING GAMES: Players have been asked not to spit or "clear their nose" during games and goal celebrations must not break social distancing rules so any form of contact is prohibited.
AFTER THE MATCH: Broadcast media will be allowed to conduct TV interviews after the game at a safe distance outside and away from the pitch. Post-match news conferences with coaches and written media will be held on videoconference platform Zoom.
ATMOSPHERE: There will be no simulation of stadium atmosphere during games but music when teams enter the pitch and after goals is permitted. Broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport are introducing optional crowd noise for viewers during their live coverage of the games.dpa